Elska, the up-and-coming series of gay photography and culture bookazines, has made its latest edition in Helsinki, capital of Finland and world’s northernmost metropolis. Known for its honest portrayal of diverse gay, queer and allied men, this newest Elska edition shines a light on the people of what is perhaps the most under-discovered Nordic capital.
Inside Elska Helsinki, the reader is introduced to thirteen Helsinkians, photographed in a natural and unairbrushed style, so you see them as they are, imperfections and all. Elska operates under the principle that perfect is boring, that imperfections are a big part of what make people truly beautiful. You can’t really connect to a photo in a magazine, but you can to a real person, and it’s real people that Elska aims to present.
As usual with every Elska edition, each of the men’s photospreads is accompanied by a personal story, enabling you to get to know them at an even more intimate level. The stories from the Finns include Joni L’s discussion on mental illness and its effect on relationships; Topias S’s oh-so Finnish perspective on struggling to be a little more romantically demonstrative; Aku K’s confessional on suffering from burn-out; and Kos D’s story of how he learned to embrace his feminine side.
Helsinki is the second Nordic city featured by Elska, following its 2016 Reykjavík edition, but the Icelanders and Finns could hardly be more different. “I found the Finns to be extremely shy and difficult to warm up, even during the peak of summer”, says Elska editor and chief photographer Liam Campbell.. „Furthermore, despite being famous for sauna culture, where it is absolutely forbidden to not be naked, they were the most timid people I’ve encountered in any Elska city. So in this way, the Helsinki edition is our most triumphant because we managed to get the locals to participate at all, opening themselves up in their texts and baring all in their photoshoots.”
Beyond Helsinki, this edition includes a special feature called Elska Dehors, in which two more men are introduced who were photographed during a short trip to Szczecin, Poland. Their openness and devil-may-care attitude really gives an interesting contrast against the more buttoned-up Finns. Despite being known as a conservative Catholic nation, the Poles met for this issue were as free as can be, compared to the more reserved Finns. It may perhaps serve a preview to a future issue fully dedicated to some Polish city.
Elska Helsinki is 164 pages and is available in a classic print format or in a electronic download version for tablet/iPad. A list of stockists and details of the subscription service can also be found on the Elska website: www.elskamagazine.com.